Martin Luther King High School students honor veterans during annual remembrance program

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Hundreds of 11th-grade students at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside came face-to-face with history as part of the 19th annual "King High School Remembers" program.

The event paired each student with a U.S. military veteran, who talked about their experience serving our country.

The vets included those who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and later conflicts in the Middle East.

Many veterans talked about their experience in combat. Others who were not in the field, shared their work.

One female Navy veteran told her student that her job while serving in Kuwait involved gathering the belongings of those who had died to make sure everything made it home with the service members remains.

U.S. history teacher John Corona started the program in 2000. Back then, nearly 30 veterans showed up on campus to be interviewed. Now, 300 vets take part.

"I hope they appreciate what we went through," said one veteran. "But just being here and the way they're treating us...I think they all appreciate it."

"It means so much more than listening to me lecture...talking to someone who was there makes a whole world of difference," said Corona.

The program is now one of the largest living history projects in the country.

Students spend two hours interviewing a veteran, and through research and re-writes, they produce a biography that goes into the school's virtual archives as well as in the form of a hard copy.

"I want to get it right," said Veeana Guerrero, an 11th-grade student. "I want to make her (veteran) life just accurately printed on the paper...it's a great honor."

They're keeping their stories alive for future generations.

"It's extremely important we save those stories," said Corona. "I tell the kids all the time the stories of all our veterans are basically what help make up the fabric of this country."
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.